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5 often-overlooked engine maintenance tips

When maintaining equipment, often the most simple of additional steps yields the greatest return. The following are five often-overlooked – but crucial – maintenance procedures from the Engine Answerman's must-do list. By taking a few extra minutes now, you'll increase your machine's longevity, make it more reliable in the field, and save you time in the shop making unnecessary repairs.

1. A quick way to determine if a positive or negative cable is responsible for a no-crank condition is to bypass it with a jumper cable. No tools are needed to set this up. Just go from the respective terminal to the appropriate location either on ground or to the starter or solenoid. Shown is a ground cable being bypassed. If the engine cranks, you know the cable or connection is bad.  


2. A drive belt that has been in use (taken out but will be put back in service) needs to be marked as to its direction of operation before being removed. As belts turn, they stretch in one direction. If the belt is reinstalled opposite of its original position, the belt will likely fail shortly after being put back in service, fall off soon after being installed, or constantly need to be retightened. This holds true for all kinds of belts from those running a fan to blades on a mower deck. To mark the previous position, use a tire crayon, chalk, or paint pen to draw arrows in several locations on the belt. Install a new belt so that its part number is facing toward you when working on the machine. This way, you know how to put it back on if you can't mark it. If you need to read the number, it can be easily done.  


3. Machinery today is loaded with additional filters that need to be serviced but are easily forgotten about (such as this power steering filter on a small tractor). Service them all. There is a reason they are in use. Neglecting the odd filter can cost you a major repair bill later on.  


4. Field dust and grease impact the radiant heat dissipation of the engine or part, deteriorate rubber components, work into fittings and bushings, and afford the opportunity to be introduced into the engine when work is performed on it. Keep things clean with a scheduled wash that uses water and a mild agent.  


5. Not every joint or mechanism that moves on a machine (such as this shift linkage) has a grease zerk. But these moving parts need to be kept clean and lubricated. To reach them, remove the panels and covering, wash the mechanism, and then let it dry. Lubricate the moving parts only by using a clear silicone spray (which doesn't attract dirt).  






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